On Wally Backman: How Do You Like Me Now?

Wally Backman has put together a rather complete and respected body of work as a minor league manager within the Mets organization.  After four years piloting the Brooklyn Cyclones, Binghamton Mets, Buffalo Bisons and Las Vegas 51′s, Wally could very well become a major league option once again for several teams around the leagues.  At the very least, his record and success, short of a championship, should warrant interviews.

September 26, 2011; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets second baseman Ruben Tejada (11) talks with first base coach Wally Backman (86) after hitting a single during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Backman was already managing in Binghamton when he interviewed to replace the departed Jerry Manuel after the 2011 season.  Wally was eventually passed over in favor of another internal option, Terry Collins, but agreed to manage the Mets AAA-affiliate, then still located in Buffalo.  In what proved to be a great decision by Wally Backman, he agreed to stay on for a second season as their AAA manager, now located in Vegas.  Why great?  The 2013 regular season solidified his resume.

In four seasons, Wally Backman to date has amassed a 265-239 record.  With a 52-24 record, he led the A-short season Brooklyn Cyclones to the New York-Penn League’s top record, and clinched the 2010 division title, but fell short of a championship.  In 2011, he posted a 65-76 record with the Binghamton Mets, and a 67-76 record in 2012 with Buffalo.  This year, his Las Vegas 51′s finished the regular season as one of the top two teams of the Pacific Coast League.  On a personal note, the 51′s clinched Wally Backman’s second division title.  The post-season awaits them, but already based on this body of work, I think we can all assume with certainty, Wally Backman will not return next season to manage the Las Vegas 51′s.  If Wally does stay with the Mets in a continuing minor league capacity next season, I will be very, very surprised.

Wally Backman stayed with the organization because he wants to eventually manage in Flushing.  Some argue he couldn’t and wouldn’t have gotten another job elsewhere - not at the time he originally interviewed.  That may be fair considering his somewhat spotty past and not enough separation.  But he certainly has paid his dues over the last four years, and turned himself into a prime candidate.

Meanwhile, Sandy Alderson has long refused to address Terry Collins’ status until after the 2013 regular season is over.  If you think Terry Collins has done a good job keeping a team decimated by injuries together, and still moving in a positive direction, then what say you of the job Wally Backman has done continuing to keep his team contending while faced with a steady departure of players back- filling the big club?  Wally Backman even got Ike Davis swinging a decent bat for the month he had him in Vegas.

Somehow, I feel as if the obligatory end of season player exit interviews will weigh heavily in the decision to retain Terry Collins, or not.  That’s just speculation on my part.  But I think we all can agree when I say Sandy Alderson has treated Terry Collins’ status like a civilian inquiry into Area 51- pardon the pun.  To Alderson’s credit, we continue to have no idea whether either one of these men will pilot the New York Mets next season and beyond.  Just so we’re straight, I want Wally Backman to be the next Mets manager as a simple matter of preference.  That said, I offer no case as to why Terry Collins should be let go.  I’m not even sure how Sandy Alderson would even initiate such a conversation, but he is on record saying he wants to see “a finish” while the club still plays for Collins.  I’ve come to appreciate Terry.  He’s feisty, garners respect, and I like the way he’s dealt with the media throughout his years.   But if Sandy Alderson is in fact open to promoting Wally Backman, I say move swiftly, because I’m sure he has appeared on other team’s radars by now.


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Topics: Las Vegas 51s, New York Mets, Rising Apple, Terry Collins, Wally Backman

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  • Ken Meoni

    It’s hard to make a judgement on this. We see the decisions Collins makes, we don’t see the decisions Backman makes. That said, there are decisions Collins makes that are questionable and IMHO have created some losses this year. He also seems to take a long time to make decisions and then sticks with them to long. Wally has done a good job with players sent down, and knows the young players now with the Mets. I am leaning towards giving Backman a chance.

    • http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.blogspot.com/ MikeLecolant.BTB

      I agree, for the moment this is a difficult choice. Considering the talent levels he’s been dealt, I tend to grade Terry Collins on a curve. Above all, I feel Backman is a savvy, smart baseball man. The dynamic he’ll bring to the dugout is secondary to me. I’m ready for Wally Backman to manage the Mets.

    • Joe_JP

      “don’t see the decisions Backman makes”

      I don’t know how we can tell how he will act in the Major League then though then you say he “has done a good job” — now we know something about his “decisions,” I guess.

      I have seen college coaches, e.g., not thriving in NFL. I don’t know how Backman will work as a MLB manager.

    • http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.blogspot.com/ MikeLecolant.BTB

      For what it is worth, I did witness Backman’s year with Brooklyn first hand. And while I get that is low-A ball and is primarily about development, there was a definite style and attitude he brought to the field. He had his players playing a very aggressive brand of baseball. For a few obvious reasons Billy Martin isn’t the most appropriate comparison, but there you go. Wally strikes me like a Billy Martin. I watched Billy in action, and even as a Mets fan, I always thought he was an on-field managerial genius. Of course, those Oakland A’s starting pitchers he ran into the ground wouldn’t agree.

    • Joe_JP

      Well, okay — I’m agnostic. Sounds good.

    • Ken Meoni

      I meant I don’t see him on an everyday basis. All I see is the finished product when players come up from AAA.

  • Ken Meoni

    If they do hire Backman, I would hope he/they would also promote Tuff to Bench Coach. You have to remember Tuff was the AAA manager back in 2011 and seems to be becoming quite involved with the players now.

    • http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.blogspot.com/ MikeLecolant.BTB

      Tuff has been with the organization for a while as well. He managed in Brooklyn, Savannah, St. Lucie, Binghamton and Buffalo. I’m a season ticket holder for Brooklyn, so I get to see many players and coaches come and go. Personally, I do not want Tuff as the next manager, and I have had issues with his third base coaching this season. I have nothing necessarily bad to say about him. It’s just my preference he not manage the big club. I view both Terry Collins and Wally Backman as having a stronger presence, and being more influential in the dugout.

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